Wasim Jaffer believes Rishabh Pant’s lack of runs in recent times has become the “missing piece” of India’s middle-order batting. He also added that until Pant improves his off-side game and learns to attack fast-bowlers’ wide lines, Team India might continue to see batting collapse in the middle overs the way it happened on Tuesday.
India were at 128/2 after 13 overs against South Africa, were on the verge of posting a total above 200 in a must-win match. The next four overs saw two wickets fall for only 20 runs alongside two dropped catches of Pant and Hardik Pandya as well. Pant couldn’t make the most of the chance and got out for only six off eight balls and India ended up with a 179-5 in 20 overs.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Jaffer said: “No, it’s not like that. I think Rishabh Pant’s lack of runs is the missing piece of India’s batting. If Rishabh Pant plays till the 18-19th overs, perhaps we won’t see these. Rishabh Pant knows fast bowlers keep it wide against him and take their pace off so he needs to improve on that. Apart from that Shreyas Iyer batted decently and got out playing a good shot. The two dropped catches were a lucky escape. Had Hardik Pandya got out at that stage, with (David) Miller taking that catch, it would have been an issue for India because Dinesh Karthik was already out and there was no one left.”
Jaffer continued: “So I think Rishabh Pant now needs to perform better. He’s a very important factor in this team. He needs to understand that bowlers will try to bowl away from his eye-line and further improve his off-side game.”
However, Pant was in a good form during the IPL, though couldn’t score much. Meanwhile, the bowling unit did well compared to the last two matches. The fourth T20I will be played on Friday, July 17 at Rajkot’s Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium as well.
“It was nice to see two overs of spin there, and both were economical and successful overs… Powerplay went well in the first match too when they (South Africa) were chasing a big total… but in this game, the wickets after the powerplay of Klaasen, van der Dussen and Harshal Patel’s dismissal of David Miller were game-changing. van der Dussen and Miller’s wickets broke the back of the South African batting lineup. Klaasen came next, Chahal dismissed him brilliantly, giving a slow and tempting delivery. Overall, the bowlers’ performance was really good. They couldn’t perform to expectations in the last two games but made up for it here nicely,” Wasim Jaffer concluded.